Some Good News About the Deadly H7N9 Avian Flu Virus

So, after the lull this past summer in transmission of the H7N9 flu virus in China, new cases have started to reappear. So far this Fall, there have been 6 new cases (2 in Hong Kong, 3 in Zhejiang province, and 1 in Guangdon province). China has so far reported 140 H7N9 cases, 45 of them fatal.

Now the good news:

  • So far, there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission. There has been no sign of any spread of the virus from these cases to their close personal contacts; and
  • Research studies have confirmed that this virus is not very good at attaching itself to human cells. As a result, it cannot spread easily from person to person in order to duplicate itself and cause illness.

Still, careful monitoring is under way to detect any changes that would enhance its ability to attach itself to human lung cells.

There is no need to reconsider travelling to China, but it is still a good idea to avoid the live poultry markets where this virus is lurking.

Travellers should avoid visiting poultry markets in China’s southern province of Guangdong as it is believed that the live poultry market in Shenzhen was the likely source of infection for at least one of the two Hong Kong cases.

Lastly, frequent hand washing is good practice to avoid any flu infections as the winter influenza season is under way in the northern hemisphere.